“Wherever you go, there you are.” Those are the words Jill spoke to Nora earlier in The Leftovers‘ transcendent second season, but they also serve as a perfect summation of last night’s season finale. Though the show’s central characters had all moved locations over the course of the season, they’d all found themselves in nearly the exact same place they’d been at the end of season one. There was Kevin, yet again bloodied and bruised, staggering through his utterly destroyed hometown, desperate just to make it home to his family. There was Nora, losing her family in an instant, her baby yanked violently from her arms. Tom, cradling Lily. Meg, in the midst of yet another dark, destructive GR scheme. Laurie, trying desperately to connect to the angry, lost daughter she’d left behind.
This time around, though, Damon Lindelof gave his characters the gift of a (relatively) happy ending: Everyone Kevin loved was ensconced safely in one home, waiting for his arrival. Nora rescued screaming Lilly and watched gratefully as Kevin burst through the front door. Tom has seemingly decided he’s ready to reconnect with his family of origin. Jill and Laurie are, at the very least, speaking to one another. And Meg, uh, Meg’s smoking and singing and being an asshole. Though a handful of season two’s mysteries were solved last night — what Meg was planning, what Evie had to do with all of it, Kevin’s living status — as usual, we were left with many an unanswered question as the episode concluded. Let’s review what we still don’t know going into season three (or maybe not).
1. Why can’t Kevin die?
Last night marked the third time Kevin’s come back from the dead (if you count his jaunt to the bottom of the lake earlier in the season). Many viewers and critics have speculated that Kevin’s something of a modern-day prophet or a shaman — and the signs all point to this being true. He’s hearing voices, he’s seeing dead people, he’s accomplishing quite a bit in his sleep, he’s communing with his prophet-like father via a TV set in limbo, and, of course, there’s the whole immortality thing. It’s certainly not a coincidence that Kevin keeps rising from the dead, Jesus-style, and that the camera keeps lingering on religious symbols — crosses, hymns, all manner of bodies of water. Speaking of which, in last night’s flashback, we watched as the lake Kevin jumped into earlier this season parted like the Red Sea. If nothing else, seems like dude’s got some serious spiritual allies.
2. What happened to Evie/to the Murphys?
Standing defiantly in front of the fake-out bomb trailer, Evie refused to answer Erika’s pleas. “Why are you doing this? I don’t understand,” Erika sobbed. Finally, Evie pulled out that Sharpie and wrote, “You understand.” Erika staggered backwards, horrified, as if she finally did. Earlier in the episode, Michael hops up on the pulpit at church and explains that that cute childhood story about he and Evie playing in an overflowing bathtub didn’t go down like Erika said it had. They weren’t overflowing the tub to “see what happened” — Michael was drowning out Evie’s sobs about her imprisoned father. A lot of the Murphy’s demons seem to trace back to John’s prison sentence, to whatever happened between John and Virgil, the details of which we as an audience still aren’t totally privy to. But there’s clearly much more at play here. What happened to Evie to turn her into a member of the GR? What happened to Erika and John to completely dissolve their relationship? Why won’t anyone speak to Virgil — what exactly did he do to John? Why is John still so angry — at Virgil, at Kevin, at the world?
3. Why is Mary finally back?
What brought Mary out of her near-comatose state? And is she back for good? Will that second earthquake have any bearing on her consciousness? Will she have a healthy baby? Will anything actually good ever happen again in Matt’s life?
4. Who was home at John’s house?
After shooting and then patching up Kevin, John helped his would-be murder victim home. The two seemed to come to something of an understanding — Kevin’s revival pulled John (permanently?) out of his near-constant state of rage, and John, weeping, finally believed that miracles were possible in Miracle. (Props to Kevin for being one of the most forgiving humans on television.) As the two walk up to their respective houses, John asks, “What if nobody’s home?” Kevin says, “You’ll come over to my house.” But John walks up his steps, sees someone inside, and waves at Kevin before walking inside — a mirror image of this season’s opening episode. Did Erika come home, or did she leave for good, like she’d been planning all along? Did Evie change her mind and return to her family? Or is it just Michael, good old reliable Michael, who seems to be the only member of the Murphy family with his head on straight?
5. Why was that crazy-ass lady trying to steal Nora’s baby?
As the GR swarmed the bridge, a dirty young woman with intriguing facial jewelry tore Lily out of Nora’s arms, yelling, “That’s not your baby. She doesn’t belong to you.” Why? Four theories here: 1) This woman’s just garden-variety nuts, and the moment was engineered by Lindelof and Co. so that we might better understand Evie and Erika’s relationship, which was deteriorating simultaneously. As the stranger screamed at Nora about not owning her adopted daughter, a few feet above the fray, Erika was realizing that Evie wasn’t the daughter she knew, that she no longer belonged to Erika and perhaps never did. 2) Lindelof wanted Nora to feel the wrenching pain of losing a family yet again, only to regain it moments later. Nora needed to let go of the idea that nothing bad could happen in Miracle, that she was still vulnerable to the randomness and cruelty of life, even though she thought she’d escaped it. Wherever you go, there you are. 3) Remember, Lily’s Holy Wayne’s biological baby — maybe she’s got some significance to his remaining disciples, and this woman was one of them. 4) Maybe the relationship between Nora and her baby connects somehow to the relationship between the cavewoman from episode one and her child — the cavewoman died, and a new mother stepped up to the plate to raise the baby, much like Nora did. Perhaps Nora had to prove her worth as a mother by similarly saving Lily from a terrible fate? Maybe the crazy woman is the cavewoman reincarnate, looking for her lost baby? Okay, now I’m sounding just as crazy.
6. What. Is. Up. With. The. Damn. National. Geographic?
It showed up, albeit briefly, in this episode, during Kevin’s emo rendition of “Homeward Bound” (more on that in a second). But other than this brief glimpse, the show barely referenced the magazine at all this season (save for Patti’s insane riff on Cairo and a chalice full of semen). Why is this particular issue so important to Kevin and his father? What does it mean? Does it hold the key to the Departure? Or is it just a red herring?
7. Who’s the Australian guy in the Purgatory Hotel, and why’d he make Kevin sing?
Kevin paid his second visit in as many Kevin-centric episodes to the Purgatory Hotel, this time thanks to a gunshot from John. (As an aside, it’s clear that John shot him not only because he thought he had something to do with Evie’s disappearance, but because he immediately obliterates any threat to his miracle-free worldview.) Kevin selected his Mapleton cop uniform this time around, forgoing another stint as International Assassin for what would turn out to be a much more low-key trip to the afterlife. Racing down to the lobby after being called by an Australian guy who claimed a cop was being “attacked” downstairs, Kevin found only a calm group of dead people performing karaoke for one another. The host of the evening? None other than the same effing Australian dude who tied a noose around Kevin’s neck right before he went and dumped little Patti Levin in the well. Kevin, enraged, demanded to know who this guy was, why he was facing off with him again, and how Kevin could make his way back to the land of the living again. Turns out all Kevin had to do was hop on stage and sing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” to re-emerge back in Jarden.
(Why all the singing in this episode, by the way? By our count, there were at least four songs sung out loud by one or more characters: The Jarden theme song, as sung darkly by Meg and Evie; the Jarden theme song, as sung merrily by the church choir; “Angel of the Morning,” by Random Blonde Dead Woman; and “Homeward Bound.” Is it yet another religious reference, the idea of setting belief systems to music? Or is it just Lindelof having a little too much fun with his actors?)
And who is this Australian guy? It seems our Aussie friend is something of an overseer of the afterlife, the man who decides who gets to go back (“I deserve to,” growled Kevin) and how. His accent and ostensible country of origin is significant — over the course of the season, there were several references to Australia. There was a news story about a presumed dead man found in a cave in Perth; there was the letter the mysterious man in Jarden’s tower sent to that same man; there was that strange scene with Kevin’s dad, doing god knows what in a hotel room in Australia (aside from speaking with his dead son, of course). Clearly, some shit’s going down in Australia; let’s hope we get more information about it next season. Unless…
8. Was this the series finale?
The end of the episode, in all of its relative calm and conclusiveness, suggested that this might be the end of The Leftovers. As we’ve demonstrated here, there are plenty of loose ends, but that’s Lindelof’s way — maybe these are the only answers we’re ever going to get. For his part, Lindelof is completely uncertain about the show’s future. As he told THR, “HBO has been immensely supportive about the creative, and all I can say is that we’re all talking. We all have to acknowledge the ratings. If the show had been on par with season one, I think we would definitely be proceeding.” He adds that there’s a new sense of uncertainty thanks to the low ratings: It would seem that viewers themselves Departed from the series, despite its newly achieved critical acclaim. “Where did everybody from season one go?” asks Lindelof. “Are they going to binge it? Are they coming back?”
Perhaps it’s best for now, as Lindelof himself suggests, just to let the mystery be.